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Sutton Tools mentors German industrial engineering student

Julia Kuhn is visiting Australia from Germany for a month as an intern at Sutton Tools. We spoke to her about the experience.

QUESTION: Give us your background…

JULIA: I come from Ludwigshafen in central Germany – about an hour from Frankfurt. I’m in my first year of an Industrial Engineering degree at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

What does this internship involve?

I’m in Melbourne to conduct a research project at the Sutton Tools factory in Thomastown. The project was prepared by Angelo Papageorgiou, Sutton Tools R&D Engineer. Essentially, I’m working in the R&D Department testing forming taps and reporting on test data.

The overall project goal is to compare the effect of surface finish on forming tap performance. Manufacturing a tap is a high friction process, and the tools are ground with a wheel which makes them rough. Angelo arranged for 10 taps to be PVD coated – and I’m performance testing them for torque and thrust. The variations are different pre- and post-coating treatments and finishes. We’re comparing products from several different companies and comparing their techniques with Sutton Tools’. Then we’ll be able to figure out whether different polishing techniques can alter performance.

What’s your first impression?

Last semester I was looking at my course options and felt I wasn’t really interested in material studies. But I’m now reconsidering, as working at Sutton Tools has made the subject come alive!

My uni course is technical rather than practical. At Sutton Tools I’m witnessing massive machines – Zollers, Aliconas, ANCAs and a SMS thread grinding machine – and seeing how precisely they all work together; and all the steps and processes a product needs to go through until it’s finished. I’m getting to see all the interconnections within the business.

What else are you finding interesting?

I’m impressed by the close collaboration between Sutton Tools and ANCA – Sutton Tools tests and trials ANCA machines before they go into production. It’s another Melbourne-headquartered company that is also very international and I’m looking forward to going over there to see how they work.

What’s it like working at Sutton Tools?

Amazing! Everyone is so friendly and are all on a first-name basis. This is very different from Germany, where we address everyone as Herr, Doctor, Frau, Fraulein. I thought I’d have to wear a business suit – but everyone is so casually dressed I just wear T-shirts and jeans!

What will you take away from this experience?

I believe it will really help me in the future. This project is so hands-on it will help me understand the theories in my coming university studies.